Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
|This multi-million dollar New York mansion was built in 1871.|
|DePalma's restaurant sits in a building also constructed in 1871.|
|Ian Crawford leads the students on a tour of Jemison Mansion.|
Friday, November 15, 2013
I look forward to seeing how Bart puts together the soundtrack. Meanwhile, please enjoy the footage in this video. It is fitting for our attention to the nineteenth century urban space, especially as it relates to transportation like street cars. I can't thank Bart enough for his support. I am sure the students will appreciate his contributions, too.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
... it is difficult (even today) to think of Tuscaloosa, a town into which people come primarily for football games, as a city.
I have been tinkering with footage and images and text written and/or gathered by the students, me and my colleagues for the upcoming "world premiere" of our humble short film "Tuscaloosa, 'The Nineteenth Century'." The event will be held at 4 pm December 4 in Room 118, tenHoor Hall on the campus of the University of Alabama. Katherine Richter, Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, will speak.
As an aside, the film is brought to you by "Room 118 Productions." Posted here are some of the photos that the students took of local buildings. The film will also have snippets of footage from urban spaces outside of Tuscaloosa. In this short clip, note how we kept what we have learned about the tensions between frontier life and the urban space in view. Another aside: the footage of the bridge at the beginning of this clip was taken last month when I was in Chicago attending a conference.
Meanwhile, it was wonderful hearing recently retired University of Alabama art historian Dr. Robert Mellown speak last week about his new book, as a presenter in the Alabama Center for the Book Lunchtime Speaker Series in Gorgas Library. Though I did not see a particular student in attendance, I was pleased to hear him say he needs to get to Gorgas and pick up Mellown's book as he - and the rest of the class - prepare to revise their final essays on local buildings. Their essays are a key inspiration behind the short film.
In our last in-class regular meeting, which will be held tomorrow, the students will discuss the first chapter of Jungle, Upton Sinclair's famous novel, and consider it alongside the late nineteenth century Second Industrial Revolution. They will see a short excerpt from PBS' Chicago: City of the Century documentary, which will push their thinking about Jungle. This reading is one of the ways we will prepare for this coming Sunday's field trip to Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama. Sloss curator and historian Karen Utz will be one of our tour lecturers. We are grateful for her support.
I look forward to hearing how the students synthesized everything they have learned to date after that visit to Sloss. They certainly did a great job of doing as much when we used an Bravo Channel Actor's Studio interview approach to simply ask one another about the significance of Gunther Barth's City People. May the synthesizing (and editing) continue.
On a final note, Roll Tide! I was able to get some footage from the festivities on Saturday when Alabama played LSU. It will be incorporated into the section of the film in which the viewer hears something along the lines of, "Granted it is difficult to think of Tuscaloosa, a town into which people come primarily for football games, as a city. But by the middle of the nineteenth century it was just that." As the film and our research makes clear, in the United States you need only 2,500 people to have a city and Tuscaloosa had as many as 4,500 before the state capital moved to Montgomery in 1845.
Monday, November 4, 2013
|Gulf of Mexico near the Florida Panhandle and Alabama.|
While I was generally pleased with their responses, helping the students better synthesize all that has been learned this semester has been my biggest challenge. As they looked for meaning in the movements of King and Potter, it would have been great to see them invoke some of what Barth teaches about nineteenth century American life. As the semester ends, we turn to working collectively on our class video about buildings in Tuscaloosa. The idea is to find the nineteenth century “city” in Tuscaloosa’s history (and perhaps in Alabama's history. The above photo features the Gulf of Mexico, which touches the shores of Mobile, a critical southern and urban port in this state). Along the way, the students will be revising their essays about the building they randomly selected. It is my hope that they work harder to make connections between course readings and indeed outings – last week, they had a scavenger hunt at the Eugene Allen Smith Photography exhibit at the Alabama Museum of Natural History; Anne Marie and Lewis finished first and with the most correct answers - and their own research.